- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Jagr-mania hit full steam in Washington yesterday.
The arrival of Jaromir Jagr, the Washington Capitals' newly acquired superstar, to downtown D.C. sparked a run on newly available Caps No. 68 jerseys bearing his name, as well as a whirlwind promotional tour.
With the Czech winger in town for only 36 hours, the Caps worked overtime to make sure they received maximum exposure from the visit. Following Monday's arrival at Dulles International Airport and yesterday morning's news conference, team officials took Jagr all around the District yesterday to shoot promotional videos. Stops were made at the White House, U.S. Capitol, several monuments and the team's dressing room at MCI Center.
Caps commercials featuring Jagr were set to begin airing last night on Comcast SportsNet completing a frenetic turnaround of just a few hours for the first run of ads and also will appear on NewsChannel 8 and local network affiliates.
While the Caps have sold more than 700 new season ticket packages since last Wednesday's blockbuster trade with Pittsburgh far eclipsing any normal summertime pace team officials want to maintain the palpable fan buzz of the past week as long as possible.
"He's only here for a day, and that's probably going to be it for him until training camp. People want to see him in a Capitals jersey, and we want to get as much bang from this trip as we can," said Mark Tamar, the Caps' director of game presentation. Tamar led the filming yesterday of Jagr. "So there's a sense of urgency for us, but what makes this so easy is that Jaromir is a very charismatic guy."
Meanwhile, the No. 68 jerseys finally became widely available yesterday. Jagr already is the third-most popular NHL player in terms of jersey sales, trailing only former teammate Mario Lemieux and Detroit center Steve Yzerman. The rush for Jagr's new home and away sweaters should bring Lemieux and Yzerman a challenge for the top slot.
The Hockey Co., the Quebec-based company that produces authentic and replica jerseys for the NHL, said it received initial orders for more than 3,000 new Jagr jerseys, many from Washington-area retailers. But that number is expected to swell quickly into the tens of thousands as orders from Europe and other parts of the United States begin arriving.
"He's got a truly international fan base," said Len Rhodes, vice president of marketing for the Hockey Co., whose brands include CCM and Koho. "It's always a big deal for us when a marquee player changes teams, but Jagr transcends many, many borders. It will be a very busy summer for us."
Local shipments for Jagr jerseys had been expected Saturday, but stitching on his name and number took longer than projected. Also, the Hockey Co. said it did not receive final confirmation on Jagr wearing No. 68, as he did in Pittsburgh, until early Monday.
"We are fielding orders from literally everywhere, including quite a number from Pittsburgh," said Warren Eckel, district manager for Modell's, which operates the main merchandise shop at MCI Center. "Here it is summer, and we've received so many calls and had so much traffic in here, it's already like playoff time around here."
League officials said the rush for the new Jagr jerseys is also rivaling runs for those of Wayne Gretzky when he was traded to St. Louis in 1996 and signed with the New York Rangers later that year.
"This rush for Jagr is right up there," said Lloyd Haymes, director of the NHL's Center Ice merchandising program. "This is definitely the biggest single rush since Gretzky. He's already one of our top [selling] guys, so when you add a change of teams into the mix, it just magnifies everything."

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